Global population divergence and admixture of the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus)

Emily E. Puckett*, Jane Park, Matthew Combs, Michael J. Blum, Juliet E. Bryant, Adalgisa Caccone, Federico Costa, Eva E. Deinum, Alexandra Esther, Chelsea G. Himsworth, Peter D. Keightley, Albert Ko, Åke Lundkvist, Lorraine M. McElhinney, Serge Morand, Judith Robins, James Russell, Tanja M. Strand, Olga Suarez, Lisa YonJason Munshi-South

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Native to China and Mongolia, the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) now enjoys a worldwide distribution. While black rats and the house mouse tracked the regional development of human agricultural settlements, brown rats did not appear in Europe until the 1500s, suggesting their range expansion was a response to relatively recent increases in global trade. We inferred the global phylogeography of brown rats using 32 k SNPs, and detected 13 evolutionary clusters within five expansion routes. One cluster arose following a southward expansion into Southeast Asia. Three additional clusters arose from two independent eastward expansions: one expansion from Russia to the Aleutian Archipelago, and a second to western North America. Westward expansion resulted in the colonization of Europe from which subsequent rapid colonization of Africa, the Americas and Australasia occurred, and multiple evolutionary clusters were detected. An astonishing degree of fine-grained clustering between and within sampling sites underscored the extent to which urban heterogeneity shaped genetic structure of commensal rodents. Surprisingly, few individuals were recent migrants, suggesting that recruitment into established populations is limited. Understanding the global population structure of R. norvegicus offers novel perspectives on the forces driving the spread of zoonotic disease, and aids in development of rat eradication programmes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20161762
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences
Volume283
Issue number1841
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Cityscapes
  • Commensal
  • Invasive species
  • Phylogeography
  • Population genomics
  • RAD-Seq

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    Puckett, E. E., Park, J., Combs, M., Blum, M. J., Bryant, J. E., Caccone, A., ... Munshi-South, J. (2016). Global population divergence and admixture of the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus). Proceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences, 283(1841), [20161762]. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2016.1762